What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love that moment, when a raw, perhaps even pure connection with life is felt. I have felt it alone, when I write my books and when I create artworks. I have experienced it with others, either through meetings one on one – or with many, when I perform. This feeling of being connected with life is so powerful, the most beautiful of all.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? When you connect to who you genuinely are. When you allow yourself to let go of the outer values to define perfection – and instead get to know yourself, as this connection will guide you to what happiness is for you. I connect with the genuine when I write and create – when I breathe and when I walk in the splendor of nature – or in vast cities. When I dance until the sun rises – and when I go on adventures and explore our extraordinary world. And through love. The love that I feel for others – and for life.
What is my greatest fear? I used to have fear of losing loved ones, of spiders and of catastrophes. But somehow these concrete fears disappeared over the years. Instead it has transformed into a troubled view of the fear that is tearing us up and currently
holds the world in a tight grip. It creates a friction of worry of what might happen
if it burst out, as fears bring out the worst in us. I guess the saying is accurate – ‘the
only thing to fear is fear itself’.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? When I overwhelm myself by taking on too much and loose my balance because of it. It can be hard when you are passionate about something – because you really want to do it all. But the consequence can be a lack of presence and provoke negative traits as irritation or impatience towards my loved ones, and myself, and that is just a waste of time. But balance is fleeting and thus constant work – and so – it just asks us to find it again.
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? There are many. I admire all artists for the courage to step outside of the known borders and try to create new paths and patterns for our culture. To mention a few that have influenced me, I would say Olafur Eliasson, whom I worked for from 2008 – 2011. I was close to the different processes connected to his oeuvre and I admire his ability to build a world of his own, where he takes the potential that art has and apply it to other worlds and work spheres. I have also always admired Sophie Calle for her diligence in approaching her existence and make it into individual poetic art projects – as an archive of a life.
What is my greatest extravagance? New York, Champagne, Silk, Art.
On what occasion would I lie? When about life and death, I guess. But I have never really been able to lie – I always end up revealing myself, so I just stopped trying. Even if it meant discomfort. But at least it made me stay true to myself.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Once in a while, I find myself wishing for it to be a bit more concrete. Something that was defined, so people wouldn’t ask me all the time – what is it ? It would make it easier to navigate in our defined systems, and to communicate it. But things take time – and what is not fully defined also holds a freedom – a rare openness, that I also must insist on. So in that sense, I wish it for myself – and not or my work.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? That rush of being in creation, which I have felt each time I started a new book. And then again, when I had written the last word, put down the pen and opened my eyes towards my surroundings, which oftentimes was a café in New York. To see a glimpse of an overview of what was not there before, but now had found expression and existence.
If I could, what would I change about myself? It would be great to be more systematic with my routines. I love the now and the new so much, that I reinvent a lot. It is quite demanding. I would like to be able to recuperate, recharge and allow myself to rest more. To be able to make my life a bit easier once in a while.
What is my greatest achievement in work? In general, it is creating tremendous hope. In terms of creating it has been writing 11 books by hand with no corrections – in a creative flow. In the concrete it was my first solo-exhibition in Berlin at Entretempo Kitchen Gallery; my first group exhibition in London curated by Kathleen Soriano. It was my performance In New York 2015 for Performa, the Consulate General of Denmark and AFSMK (of the National Gallery in Denmark). And lately it is to have been in the Danish parliament performing for all the political parties, and setting up six exhibitions.
Where would I most like to live? New York – but lately my life draws me to my country of birth, Denmark. But I have fallen in love with most places of the world, so continuous travels are necessary for me.
What is my most treasured possession? My handwritten books; my collection of antique Egyptian bronze and enamel sculptures; the white Daruma that my grandfather gave me as a child from Japan; my artworks and my memories.
What is my most marked characteristic? Strength that conveys the inner beauty of life and intense presence.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? In New York it is at the Met. I enjoy going to the Egyptian temple that they have installed facing a huge glass-window towards Central Park – I love to write there. In Copenhagen I would say it is the winter Garden at The Glyptotek.
What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? In New York, I think its Marlow and Sons, Five Leaves or Maison Premiere that never cease to make me happy. In Copenhagen, I love cooking for friends – I love the gardens and the rooftops and the fresh local vegetables.
What books influenced my life and how? The Story of Sinuhe, I read it when I was 12 and lost myself in it ….. Simone de Beauvoir, when I was 16 …. Also sprach Zaratustra by Nietszche, when I was 18 ….. Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein when I was 22…. All myths – The greek myths, the Egyptian myths in particular….. and …. and…..
Who are my favorite writers? Had you asked me a few years back, I would have replied Simone de Beauvoir or the Iranian female poetic Forough Farrokhzad or Hannah Arendt perhaps. But lately, I have found it so poetic to read the streets. You know, people write little sentences everywhere – and when I lived in New York – I started reading the streets. I would follow how sentences would create a story, written by strangers, made coherent by each individual readers. My favorite book of all.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Mozarts Requiem, because if the dramatic nature of the question. PJ Harvey, Preisner, Yasmine Hamdan, and then random east coast hip-hop and maybe some Coltrane jazz . Then a bit opera sung by Maria Callas – and a surprise. Then silence, the sounds of the ocean, of trees birds and the voices of my darlings and dear ones, of the roaring city, and people moving and of life being lived, the voices of many strangers that merge to sound like an Ocean.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? In 2011 I visited Madrid with my friends –it was just before moving to New York, we went to see an art exhibition about Heroines- It was spectacular in its romantic nature- trying to gather great women – of myths and of reality through a coherent narrative.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? All the people, know or unknown, who try to make the world a better place- and do it with courage and love for life rather than for their own gain. The ones who dare to be who they are, and seek to find truth in themselves, which needs not to be the truth for all. The people who seek love in life with bravery, honesty and loyalty. You are my heroes and heroines.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? It changes according to my mood. If I’m thirsty of artistic visual richness it would be to see a Wong Kar- Wai movie. Or an ‘only lovers left alive’; ‘Lost Highway’, Reconstruction’ or ‘A Single Man’ – type of movie in the dark hours of the night eating white and dark chocolate and drinking wine. If I seek intellectual inspiration it would be critical documentaries or historic programs with coffee and tea in the afternoon. If have a cold or if I’m overworked, my favorite movie would be sweet and golden, light in nature.
What role plays art in my life and work? My life is an artwork, and my art is life. It is all. And somehow the two have merged into one in me. I remember being 15 and visiting London. It was before the person in me had fully developed into an individual being, and my mother looked at me in the underground – ‘I see you know Helene, I know what you are, you are an artist of life’. It didn’t make sense to me, until recently, and then it made more sense than anything else.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? I have had the privilege to work with brilliant people who have supported me on my journey. Their roles have changed, and they have seen my work through its many stages. Who Is the greatest is hard to say, as they have all been important in their different ways.
Whom would I like to work with in 2017? Im currently working on a project in and with Greece, and cannot wait to get started.
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017? The ones I’m working with at the moment – the ones, I’m about to work with, and the ones I haven’t met yet.
What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? To close the Danish parliament project in style, and thus curate all the work that I have done and bring it to the rest of the political world, and wherever particulate people congregate
Where can you see me or my work in 2017? I’m just finalizing my projects at the Danish Parliament with a large exhibition, which is opening in August. There are several other exiting things planned, but overall you can follow my work on whitepageproject.com and my social profiles, and on my website http://www.helenelundbyepetersen.com.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? That when you are truly passionate about something, you cannot turn it on and off. It is with you all the time, as a companion that stays with you on a constant journey.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
PJ Harvey and Angela Merkel.
How can you contact me?
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Social Media.
You can see me here:
Here are links to my books: